I know, it is a strange subject for a man to be involved in, but, from the moment I put it on my new website my daughter Alexis has been chasing me to write something about the Pink Bunnies photograph. She was concerned that someone looking at it might think it was Photoshopped together. That never occurred to me. The picture was taken on a 5 x 4 inch monorail plate camera with transparency film long before Photoshop was available.
What you saw through the camera then was what you got on the film, mistakes were not an option.
It was true that if you had a large enough budget then photographs could be retouched but it was an exception rather than an everyday occurrence as it is now. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to be shooting digitally now and being able to use Photoshop for minimal or full blown retouching. The thing is, if I were asked to do the same photograph again now, digitally, I would still shoot it for real.
The original idea was conceived by Iain Hawk (Art Director and friend) for a commercial project. The first job was to find a landscape with a small tree which was in proportion to the bunnies and didn't overpower them in the final shot. The pink bunnies existed, and could be bought off the shelf, but the bodies were too short to allow them to sit up so they had to be made especially for the photograph - two hundred of them.
I'll just clear the air right now because some of you will be asking the question. The bunnies were given away to children's homes and hospitals once the work was complete.
On the day of the shoot the weather was sunny and bright and we started off reasonably early. There were four or five of us altogether and I set up the camera at the location so that we could find out the area for laying out the bunnies. All good so far and then we noticed a problem. All the bunnies had floppy ears and it didn't look good. We had looked at them in the studio and loved the way they sat up and it made us all smile, but now, with a few of the pink bunnies sitting together we needed ears we could shape in any position. And the thing is, two hundred bunnies have four hundred ears. All of a sudden the day seemed to be getting much shorter.
The stylist was dispatched back to town for wire (ed. that reads wire not wine) and more tape while the bunnies were moved around and placed at the location. I had hoped to get the shot as the sun set - thank goodness, it took hours to get all the ears pointing the way we wanted. Not a single piece of wire or tape was allowed to show towards the camera - remember, no retouching. At the end of the day we had about an hour to spare. If you look at the bunny sitting to the left, at the front of the photograph, you will see the shadow and the arm are almost level. The final shot was taken around 9:30 on a summer's evening just as the sun hit the horizon. I was very lucky that the sun did not drop down into a bank of cloud as often happens in Scotland.
It was dark before we got the gear and all the bunnies back to town and into the studio. That was followed by a slightly undignified rush to our favourite place around the corner, Clark's Bar in Dundas Street, a place where many of the art directors, copywriters and designers of the day frequented.
We took the shot of the pink bunnies just off a quiet road in the country so there wasn't much passing traffic. I did wonder about the cars that slowed down during the day. What would the driver say when he got back home? Would he/she say anything? How would it sound at supper time? "I was driving past a field today and it was full of pink bunnies just sitting there." Sadly we will never know the answer - but we can probably make a good guess...
By Robert K Wilson